“Harping” by Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine


How have I walked so far, filled so many hats
with leaves, to find a forest where no leaves fall,
where each new page grows out upon the last
and the boughs lay down like the arms of cloaks
in a cloakroom. The wind speaks up, loses its way,
starts over. I drop my arms, too, and think silly
thoughts about prayer. How have I slept so long
that I’m this awake. I’ve so much reading to do
and for once I’m up to it, starting with the nearest
branch. With bread and a lantern I could read
into the night. With no lantern I could be night
dreaming aloud for each tree. When was it I
decided to stay poor, poor as a library, so I could
walk like this. Where did I set my hat. The smell
of mud, of books wasting in the mud, sweetens
into something like straw. It’s a red smell, but not
urgent. Nothing’s urgent here, certainly not these
questions. I ask them because even the mouse
has a song and the mockingbird mocks it openly
and the river tends to digress and hangers
chime in a cloakroom. This is the sound the air
makes with me.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017


Brendan Constantine: “I get a lot of inspiration from just going out and pretending I’ve never been to this planet before. It’s a great way to remember just how absurd, strange, beautiful, and unlikely everything is around you. If I can stay in that childish frame of mind, in that place of possibility where you watch somebody get into an elevator, the doors close, then open again and five people come out, and it occurs to you, ‘That’s where you go to become five people!’ Or you cut your hair and more grows out, and you cut your hair and more grows out, and you deduce, ‘The human head must be packed with hair.’ If I can practice daily astonishment, I find that I’m a little more pleasant, patient, and forgiving.” (web)

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